The Startup Trap You Have to Avoid if You Want to Grow

Things may be moving fast in the right direction, but if you want maintain your startup growth you have to avoid one common trap at all costs.

If you are at a startup that has graduated to the expansion stage you’ve done quite well for yourself — so far. OpenView considers the expansion stage to mean that your business is generating 2-20 million in annual revenue. Any business that can get to these numbers today’s competitive marketplace should be proud.
If that includes you, chances are you’re feeling pretty great about the customer portfolio you’ve been building up. Maybe you’re even flying high over a feature that was published about your company on TechCrunch. Things are going well and VCs are all over you wanting a piece of your business.
Reality check time: I’ve seen many executives at expansion-stage companies get too comfortable and make a fatal mistake when they get to this particular stage of growth.
They think they know everything about their buyer — their needs, their pains, their wants. They figure all the research, effort, and outreach they put into discovering those insights is behind them — as if those things were static. In short, the conversations of the past are completely dictating all current and future decision-making.

Why You Have to Avoid the Static Buyer Persona Trap

I’ve written about this before, but if your buyer persona and segmentation research is not refreshed annually you are asking for trouble. You have to face it — your buyer’s pains and needs are not the same today they were a year ago. In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape one year can be a lifetime.
My suggestion: It’s time to standardize a research process within your organization to conduct customer interviews and lost customer interviews. I know it sounds simple, and you’ve likely talked about how you should do this, but the question is — does someone really have ownership of this within your organization? Is that person doing it religiously? Documenting all the results and sharing them with sales, marketing, product, etc?

Buyer Persona Research Tips and Resources

If you are in OpenView’s portfolio, you can always turn to Tien Anh Nguyen’s Market Insight team for direct support with this type of research. If you are not in the portfolio, however, here are some great resources to help you do this type of research on your own:

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Devon McDonald
Devon McDonald

Devon McDonald is a Partner at OpenView, where she sits on the firm’s investment committee and oversees OpenView’s Growth team, a group of Research, Sales and Marketing Strategists responsible for helping its portfolio companies acquire more customers and scale at an accelerated rate.
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